What is Integrative Architecture?

1. Overview of the Topic – Summary:

The world of health and wellness has had great changes in the field of Medicine with Integrative Medicine, which strives to integrate the fields of Alternative Medicine with Complementary Medicine.

The intention of Integrative Architecture is to utilize a similar process of development such as that of Integrative Medicine. What are these similarities? Integrative Medicine’s focus is on combining traditional approaches of health and healing, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (often defined as Alternative and Complementary Medicine), with more modern pharmacological approaches and practices (often called Conventional Medicine and Allopathic Medicine) with the intention of best practices for healing, health and wellness.

As such, Integrative Architecture is focused on a similar approach, where traditional materials and methods of building are combined with modern methods and materials with the goal of best practices. The goal of this approach is to achieve healthier buildings, with more energy efficiency, and a focus on environmental conservation by using best practices to achieve this in current and future Architecture.

One of the biggest challenges in the built world is that changes cannot always happen so quickly. Part of the reason for the rapid development of Integrative Medicine is due to “patients”, as the general public, have demanded these changes, along with the fact that as individuals these changes can be made independently. While the built environment cannot always make such quick changes, the idea that striving for better solutions in current and future architecture can be a positive process. And this begins with awareness and education, along with steps to achieve these goals.

2. What is the focus of this Topic?:

Integrative Architecture is focused on utilizing optimal methodologies and using best practices for healthy, energy efficient and ecological solutions in creating current and future designs in the built environment.

While there has been been great awareness of Green Building, Energy Efficient building and Sustainable Building, particularly in the past ten to twenty years, the changes in the building fields in relation to health concerns have been slow. Even the fields of ecological and energy efficiency have taken quite a long time to see changes, and there is still a large need for current ecological and sustainable designs to include healthier approaches to building for human and biological well being.

However, the most important part of this process is that these fields of Green Building, Healthy Building and Sustainable Building are not always integrated in a cohesive process, with many different approaches used by each group. And sometimes this has created solutions for one facet of the equation, yet does not consider the impact on the other topics in a cohesive whole, thereby creating other problems. This “whole systems” approach is required in an integrated format to achieve these cohesive solutions, hence the term “Integrative Architecture”.

3. Why it’s listed here – What is the relevance to Architectural Medicine?

Integrative Architecture is a concept coined by the founder of Architectural Medicine. It is actually an important component with Architectural Medicine in achieving the goals of providing cohesive, integrated solutions that consider the many facets involved with Energy Efficiency, Sustainability and Health in the Built Environment.

With Architectural Medicine, the focus is on the complete experience of Architecture and health – mentally, physically and emotionally –  while Integrative Architecture is focused on the integration of the various traditional and modern methods of construction and building. While the goal is the same as Architectural Medicine, the focus is more specific to Architectural materials and methods, while Architectural Medicine includes both fields of Architecture and Medicine.

It is, however, an important part of the big picture and includes all of these building puzzle pieces, which is why it is an important component of Architectural Medicine.

4. Common groups and individuals involved with this topic:

Integrative Architecture can be considered a sub-field of Architectural Medicine, with a specific focus on Architecture and the many facets of Construction (AEC). It includes the many building sub-fields by focusing on more cohesive solutions in the built environment.

Inspired by the work of Dr. Andrew Weil and the Integrative Medicine approach, Integrative Architecture has taken cues from the wisdom of this approach by combining traditional building approaches with modern building knowledge for best practices in supporting a healthy, green and sustainable built environment.

5. Resources:

  • Websites
  • Books/Publication
    • Architectural Medicine book – forthcoming in 2020